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Cannes 2016

What About Glass Points for All Cannes Lions?

Iris WorldWide, 2 years, 3 months ago

ECD at iris Chris Baylis discusses the metaphorical minefield of gender politics in advertising

What About Glass Points for All Cannes Lions?

When Little Black Book asked me to comment on the upcoming Cannes Lions, I could have chosen to talk about possible winners, future trends; instead I opted to talk about the Glass Lions. So let’s walk into the metaphorical minefield of gender politics together.

To quote the official Cannes site, “The Glass Lions recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice.” Initiated by Cheryl Sandberg and her Leanin.org, it’s a fascinating initiative. Of course, as a white middle class western man, some would consider me not in the slightest bit qualified to talk about issues of equality and prejudice. But isn’t that the point? This new award is there to get us all to think about how we view women, represent them in communications, treat them, work alongside them and hopefully report into them - especially if one of those future leaders, creators or revolutionaries happens to be my daughter.

It’s fascinating to see how the award is going to work and what it means to the rest of the festival. This year ‘Like a girl’ from P&G and ‘This girl can’ from Sport England are going to be slugging it out for the Glass Lion and I wouldn’t be surprised if they both win. All the work is amazing and will no doubt win many more awards across the festival.

But what about the rest of the work across all the other categories? Many have drawn attention to some of the questionable treatment of women in recent Axe ads for example, produced by Unilever, who of course produce the ‘empowering’ Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. With the lens of the Glass Lion hovering over the festival, does this mean that all sexist work should be overlooked? Could we go as far as saying it should be disqualified? At what point does sexism stop being ‘just a bit of fun’ and get consigned to the cultural dustbin along with racism and homophobia. Can corporations turn a blind eye to sexism in ads, either implicit or explicit? I think it’s fantastic that an advertising jury now has the power to voice their feelings on the issue.

Personally, I think we should go further and apply the thinking to all categories. What about Glass Points for all Lions – extra credits that juries can award to any work for tackling the issue of inequality and sexism?

This would root out the bad beer ads, dodgy car ads and the just downright old fashioned and ignorant ads.

As advertisers we create culture. Culture is both the mirror we hold up to the world and if we are particularly good at what we do, culture shapes the world. What kind of world do we want to live in, one where we are all equal and empowered, or a lesser world?